2024 – Slowing down | When slowing down is impossible


Slow down? Take time for yourself? Unfortunately, these ideas are out of reach for many Quebecers. Given inflation, every hour of work is sometimes essential. We spoke to people who are caught up in the stress of everyday life. And tried to understand how we can work together to give them the opportunity to walk less.

Sylvain's* phone sounds an alarm. The man takes it out of his pocket, consults the application Uber Eats and thinks at full speed.

“The restaurant is right next door, but the customer lives in Mont-Royal. I would have to go back to Montreal to get back to Laval… For 11 piasters, that's nonsense.”

He does not accept the order.

We are standing in front of a community center in Laval. Sylvain, a separated father, is waiting for his son Arthur*, 9 years old, who is attending a rehearsal of the Petits Chanteurs de Laval.


A meal devoured hastily. The evening will unfold at a furious pace.

There is no question of relaxing during the extracurricular activity while listening to the choir's songs that reach our ears. Arthur came here with his school bag full of music under his arm, his father had his big red bag with the image of Uber Eats. The idea: to make the most of every minute to make deliveries for restaurants and earn a few dollars.

However, this evening, luck is not on Sylvain's side. The app offers him a 3.6-mile ride that would cost him $8.07. He skips it, hoping to get something better. But the next ride requires him to ride 2.7 miles… for a measly $3.01.

“Dairy Queen again,” complains Sylvain. “These orders are too small to be worth it.”

Eventually, an offer comes in for $9.09, but Sylvain figures he won't have enough time to place the order and get back in time for the end of rehearsal at 8 p.m. He'll end the evening empty-handed, which is rare.

“The weather is so good tonight, the rush will start after sunset,” he predicts.

On the one hand, the break has given him some breathing room, but on the other hand, the evening will not earn him a cent.

Picking up Arthur from daycare at a school in Montreal at around 5:45 p.m. A quick meal at a diner in Laval. Choir for Arthur and delivery for Sylvain, then back to Montreal for bed: the father-son duo's Thursday routine went like clockwork.

Sylvain has three jobs. He works as a substitute teacher in secondary schools, takes on extra contracts for television when they are available, and fills the (many) gaps with deliveries.

“When I get a call, I prefer to do cover jobs because they pay the best. The disadvantage is that you have to wait two weeks for the payment. That's why I thought about delivery, because that way I can get paid within the next minute,” he explains.

A series of events forced Sylvain into personal bankruptcy, leaving him with no access to credit, and liquidity management is a headache for him.

We leave Sylvain on his way back to Montreal. He wants to use the trip to kill two birds with one stone and make a delivery. But after a complaint from Arthur's mother, the court has banned him from working for Uber Eats as long as he has custody of the boy.


Even though the financial reality is not easy for the separated father, he finds a source of comfort in his son.

“I've had some bad luck in my life,” Sylvain sums up. But I think that as the father of this child, I've hit the jackpot. »

Sleep through the week

Julie* is another Quebecer for whom the idea of ​​slowing down is unfortunately unthinkable. Many will recognize themselves in the routine of this 39-year-old woman, mother of two boys aged 6 and 9.


Between her work, her family obligations and housework, Julie* doesn't have a minute to herself.

Get up at 6:15 a.m. Have breakfast, pack lunches prepared the day before, brush teeth, get dressed. At 7:30 a.m. everyone has to get in the car and leave the apartment in Longueuil. Off to the boys' school in Boucherville, where the children's father lives.

“School starts at 8:15 a.m. and I can tell you that they are pretty punctual if they are not late. This morning, for example, we were late. We have already received warnings from the school,” says Julie.

The latter then goes to work – she has an administrative job in Boucherville. She finishes work at 5 p.m. Julie immediately opens the application Fast from her phone to let the teachers know that she is coming to pick up the children. They will then (theoretically!) be ready when she arrives.

You will then need to return to Longueuil via Route 132.

“If everything goes well, we arrive around 5:40 p.m. The kids are starving. Just cooking pasta and heating up sauce takes too long for them. At the beginning of the week, I often have dinners that I prepared on the weekend. But as the week progresses, it gets more complicated,” says Julie.

By the time dinner is over and the table is cleared, it is almost 7 p.m. Then we have to supervise the children's homework, who are exhausted and do not always cooperate.

Julie uses the boys' shower to prepare lunch for the next day.


The day of Julie*, mother of two little boys, starts with a bang.

When they finally go to bed, I'm completely exhausted. Sometimes the dishes are still dirty, I haven't done my laundry… and the next day it all starts again.

Julie, 39 years old, mother of two little boys

Julie, who suffers from anxiety disorders, recently learned from her doctor that she was close to dangerous exhaustion.

“But I don't have insurance that covers 80% of my salary if I'm sick!” she exclaims. Even with 80%, I would rush my life. Without that, it's not even an option. »

Julie earns $67,000, but with rent for her five and a half children now at $1,500 and car payments rising to $400 a month, she doesn't feel like she can cut back.

“I pretty much live paycheck to paycheck,” she says. Move to a smaller apartment? She thought about it. Before she realized that the three and a half in his corner often pay more rent than his own apartment.

In order not to hit the wall, the mother decided to take one of her few weeks of vacation last winter.

I slept the whole week, it was like hibernation.

Julie, 39 years old, mother of two little boys

A chance to catch her breath before diving back into the daily routine that she just can't give up. In the hope of being able to hold out in the future.

A social cry from the heart

Catherine Boucher is another reader who responded to our call to find people who can't afford to slow down.


The rent for the five-and-a-half-room apartment that Catherine Boucher lives in in Longueuil is increasing every year – in July it will reach $1,425 a month. “I expect that at 5% per year I will soon no longer be able to afford it.”

She insists she is not pitiful. As an occupational therapist who works in rehabilitation team management in the health network, she makes nearly $100,000 a year.

But with the cost of living skyrocketing, she's worried about both herself and others.

“I'm concerned when we hear about housing and inflation, but most of all I want a broader view of where we're going with this,” she said. What motivates me to talk to you about my financial situation is that I don't think it makes social sense.”

MMe Boucher has three sons, one of whom is financially independent at 23. She supports another who is studying at the University of Sherbrooke and the youngest who lives with her.

The rent for the five and a half apartments she lives in Longueuil increases every year – in July it will reach $1,425 a month.

“The higher the amount, the more significant the percentage increase,” she says. I expect that at 5% per year I will soon no longer be able to bear it.”

She, who has never had financial difficulties before, now has to imagine all possible scenarios.

“When I see rents going up, I ask myself: what are the solutions? Do I get a roommate? Do I get a part-time job in addition to my own? Do I keep my job and move away to save money? That would really be taking me too far. Or move to the region and change jobs? But it's still quite a life change!”


Despite a salary of around $100,000, Catherine Boucher is currently suffering from financial stress.

It's on my mind. When I fall into anxiety, calculations and projections, it can wake me up at night.

Catherine Boucher, occupational therapist, mother of three boys

She is also worried about her boys and wonders how they will manage to arrive.

Cuts? That's certainly possible, but his budget is already tight.

“I don't spend so much money. I want to pamper myself. I don't buy new clothes or go to restaurants anymore,” she says.

“It's uncomfortable to talk to you,” she blurted out. Finances are still a taboo subject. But it's a cry from the bottom of my heart that I'm letting out. When I'm in this situation with the salary I earn, I tell myself that there are people in our society who are doing badly! »

We bet his heart-wrenching cry will resonate with many of you.

* Sylvain, Arthur and Julie are borrowed names. Sylvain, who is looking for a more permanent job, did not want to be named so as not to affect his chances of finding one. Julie, for her part, wanted to avoid being recognized by her employer and giving him the impression that she was poorly paid.